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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exploring Chile: Valparaiso - Viewpoint of a Quaint City (Part 2)

Logan's back! 

If you missed Part 1 from last week, check it here....

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The views form the cerros are impressive enough, though walking the steep, winding streets with a bay view that are reminiscent of a San Francisco 100 years back is where Valpo boasts one if its most interesting qualities...the graffiti.  An eyesore or an annoyance in many cases in the U.S., the graffiti here represents the beauty of perfection in imperfection. 

On virtually every street there are amazing displays of artistic expression on walls, sidewalks, even staircases.  Valparaiso is known for being a city of artists and was even home to one of, if not the most, famous Chilean poets of all time, Pablo Neruda.  Neruda had three houses in Chile, but openly called "La Sebastiana" his favorite. 
View from the garden at Pablo Neruda's house: "La Sebastiana"

He loved Valparaiso.  He was known to take a walk every morning through the cerros to get out of the house before working his craft (and with such surroundings who could blame him!).  

The hills provide great views and tucked away gems, but you'll want to use the funiculars once your legs demand it...and believe me, they will.  These funiculars are simply wooden shacks placed on a platform and pulled by a giant wheel and cable system.  They shake and shimmy and for some could be likened to a carnival ride.  On more than one occasion I witnessed yelps, chuckles, and couples holding each other in "safety hugs".  I'm not sure how old these lifts are, but they are old, real old.  
Fret not though, they are safe (I'm almost positive) and give the legs the rest they well deserve!  One funicular in particular took us up to a restaurant (the name escapes me) located in a bright orange house atop Cerro Concepcion where one can enjoy fantastic Chilean wine (among the best in the world) along with an international sampling of food and a view that stretches the eye to the neighboring beach city Vina Del Mar

View from inside the funicular at Cerro Aritilleria

My recommendation would be to enjoy a bit of wine and eat lightly while enjoying this view because after a day of walking and when in the birthplace of the "Chorillana" one must, absolutely must indulge themselves in this typical Chilean dish at Bar Cinzano  
Here, one can also take in typical Chilean music, great wine or beer (some of the beer is Chilean brewed and is impressively tasty.  There is a strong German influence in many of the Chilean craft brews) among locals and tourists alike.  
It's a good thing the Valparaisians have those hills to walk everyday because between the chorrillanas, completos, and bife a la pobre, because without, one could better be rolled through the streets!

If this post were a day, we would now be somewhere in the timeframe of 11pm, as in Chile, meals and life in general are shifted 3 hours later.  And accordingly, I will say my goodbyes and hope that you've enjoyed our time together, because the day is over and the night begins, and that, is an entirely different post.  When you think "Chile" there are so many things to think of, but certainly remember to think of culture, art, warmth, amazing wine, and breathtaking views and geography among aging structures with new and evolving art.  And most certainly, if you plan on visiting Chile, think Valparaiso...and wear good walking shoes ;)

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